November 2004

AAJ Staff By

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If "tromboning" wasn't a word before, it is now that Ray Anderson used it during his first solo trombone concert in 20 years (Oct. 7th), which kicked off AAJ-NY's monthly "1s and 2s" series at Cornelia Street Café. New words are needed to describe Anderson's feats of breathing and tone production, his tenacious control of tempos, his huge dynamic range and wily tension-and-release tactics and of course his sheer onstage vigor. It was impossible to look away from Anderson as he wove quick, unbroken lines on "The Sisyphus Effect", crooned "You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me", attached a smaller second bell for the astonishing "Tap-a-Jack", pushed the horn's sonic limits with "Stomping on Enigmas" and a multiphonic "Mood Indigo", reveled in the melodic beauty of Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed" and closed with the Hugh Masekela hit "Grazing In the Grass". The second set featured the Heavy Metal Duo, the brainchild of Anderson and tuba maestro Bob Stewart. Slinging the bulky instrument across his upper body almost like an electric bass and playing it with a remarkable (and surely deceptive) ease, Stewart matched Anderson's virtuosity in every respect. The two synchronized their prodigious talents on "East St. Louis Toodle-oo", "Wade In the Water", "John Henry" and even The Four Tops' "I Can't Help Myself", retelling every tale in ebullient and hauntingly personal fashion.

One would have expected a bigger crowd when Joe's Pub and the Black Rock Coalition hosted the Yohimbe Brothers (Oct. 6th), a co-led project of DJ Logic and Vernon Reid. It couldn't have helped that the band started over an hour late, at 12:20 AM on a Wednesday (during an extra-innings Yankee game, no less). Patience was rewarded, however, as soon as Latasha Nevada Diggs broke into the searing dancehall-inspired rap of "Shine for Me," which opens the group's new Thirsty Ear release The Tao of Yo. Reid was clearly the frontman, moving between guitar and his own CD-based cut-and-scratch gear. But Logic seemed to be the quiet intelligence keeping it all together. The pair also had a live bassist and drummer, with Diggs adding processed vocals and other sonic effects. MC Bos Omega walked on for "TV," a rap critique of couch potato-ism, but his zeal ("We about to fuck this shit up Brooklyn style!") seemed a bit much given the low-key mood of the room. Unevenness aside, the Brothers managed an impressive feat: bringing off their harmolodic funk-rock and futurist hip-hop in a live setting, and pushing the notion of the turntable-driven ensemble a few steps forward.

~ David Adler

For two nights, Chicagoan trumpeter/flugelhornist Malachi Thompson brought his Free-bop Band to Sweet Rhythm - his first time in NYC as leader in four years. The frontline was rounded out by Billy Harper (tenor sax) and Oliver Lake (alto sax) while the rhythm section, similarly comprised of longtime collaborators, was an unobtrusive threesome (pianist Kirk Brown, bassist James King and drummer Nasar Abadey) which left most of the intense musical exploratory missions up to the horns at the fore of the house mix. Opening night (Oct. 8th) unfortunately was sparsely attended whether due to the Yankees/Twins Game 3 playoff and/or the second Presidential debate. Folks eventually filtered in by the end of the second set, though, and were treated to an astonishing Miles medley of the folk groove-based "Jean Pierre" and a tune resembling Wayne Shorter's "Dolores" into a closing "Theme". The final set took that raw momentum continuing with "Woody's Dream", showcasing Lake's electric tone, a warm flugelhorn spot sentimentally provided by the leader for the tune's namesake, Woody Shaw, and Harper's dark and bold tenor. Another tribute, "In Walked John" (for Harper's audible influence: Coltrane), featured the catchy theme of "Equinox" played by the horns with superlative solo spots - especially Harper, who now in his early 60s continues to be one of THE unheralded post Coltrane tenor players.

The newly opened Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea on the West Side is the only museum in the world dedicated to the art of the Himalayas as well as bordering areas such as Mongolia. In a very special and memorable event, it hosted veteran jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd in a most-astonishing pairing with the traditional Buryat Mongolian group known as the Pentatonics (Oct. 15th). Labeled as "Throat Singing and All That Jazz!", the follow-up to Rudd's highly successful previous collaboration which was with Malian musicians from Africa entitled Mali-Cool , curator and Director of Programming - Tim McHenry - affectionately introduced the music premiere as "Mongol-cool" in perhaps a suggestion for the title to be used for their unique musical experiment that is slated for official release in Spring 2005.


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